West Seattle entrepreneur Craig Vinton passed away Aug. 1. He was a WSHS Class of '65 graduate, and had a love of hot rods, like his '64 Chevy, pictured below, and electric cars including his roadster pictured above taken in late July on Beach Dr. He operated All Star Entertainment and pioneered lip sync in Seattle. The West Seattle Herald wrote three articles about Mr. Vinton and his electric cars.
Craig Vinton, entrepreneur, 65, dies; Electric car & solar energy enthusiast who popularized lip-sync in Seattle
Mr. Vinton was featured in three West Seattle Herald stories
West Seattle resident Craig Vinton, 65, died suddenly of heart complications Aug. 1. The West Seattle Herald wrote three articles about Mr. Vinton, focusing on his knowledge and fascination of electric cars, and his entrepreneurial spirit. Many of us saw J.P. Patches ride in Vinton's electric roadster, the one pictured above, in the 2009 parade. He operated AllStar Entertainment! and pioneered lip sync and DK Karaoke in Seattle.
Craig was preceded in death by sisters Jean and Rebecca. He is survived by sisters Jan and Heather.
The West Herald was saddened to learn of his passing, and offer our condolences to his family and friends. While his heart was aided by a lithium-powered pacemaker, it was the power of his big heart that those close to him seemed to admire most about him. We asked a few to share their thoughts about him for this article. Each was humbled to do so and insisted he had numerous other friends who were also very close to him, and who he also influenced positively.
Norm Smith, Torrance, CA.
"Life is what happens when you are waiting for it to start but Craig did not wait," said Norm Smith, a WSHS Class of '68 grad who is a retired aerospace salesman. He described Vinton as a "magnanimous, generous caring person."
"Craig jumped in with both hands and both feet, sometimes to extremes," Smith said. "He and I were friends, part of a clique. We all hung out at Alki.
"I tend to graduate toward those people who are the nucleus of a number of circles of friends," Smith added. "Craig was famous for throwing big parties at the West Seattle VFW Hall, and 50 or 100 people would show up. There'd be 10 different groups of people, and 'never the twain shall meet', you know? Some were the entertainers. We had nothing in common, but there were enough old school friends there and we could gather. Craig was kind of the nucleus, the binding force of the different groups.
"He was kind of like Mr. West Seattle." said Smith. "He put on talent shows in Lincoln Park, at the West Seattle Street Fair, and have floats in the parade. Some of them were held together with tape and spit. His knowledge was so broad on so many topics, music, entertainment, plumbing. On a practical note, I urge people to have emergency contact information in their wallet, on their frig, and cell phone because when Craig died it took a while before we all knew what was going on."
Sandra Dee, friend & entertainment business owner
"Craig was my mentor, and a father figure to me," said Sandra Dee of Woodenville, owner of Positive Promotions, a Kirkland-based entertainment company. She began her career working for him. He lent me $5000 to start when I was only 24.
"Craig brought lip-sync to Seattle," she said. "He lip-synched on the TV show 'Puttin' on the Hits' in the '80's, then brought lip sync contests to Seattle hotels, bars, and parties. it was huge. He also introduced the DK Karaoke System at a Seattle Center event. it wasn't in the bars yet."
She revealed that he preferred lip sync to karaoke because "the music was better since you would hear the actual stars sing."
"I had a passion for entertainment and so did he," she said. "He taught me the trade. My entertainment company books musicians, recognizes talent, and helps artists achieve their dreams. I think Craig and I were kindred spirits in that way because he helped me achieve my dream."
Don Driftmier, friend, DJ
"I met Craig while DJing at a KLSY-Radio party in the mid '80's," said Don Driftmier. "He was hosting lip-synching finals at the Doubletree. We bothI did the Special Olympics Dance Marathons. He was in charge of entertainment, including lip-synching, celebrity impersonators. In many ways we were actually competitors, but he was always professional, honest and fair. He also co-ran a film and photography business in early 60's called Eagle Film Productions."
Driftmier said some will remember Vinton's food venture.
"Craig came up with a hot sauce recipe and you could buy it in Safeway and all the stores. It was called 'What's Dis Here Stuff'. That business began to grow and he felt unable to manage it with all his other projects. I think there is still a bottle of it in his cupboard."
Steven Lough, President, Seattle Electric Vehicle Assoc., or SEVA
"SeattleEVA (Electric Vehicle Association) was created in 1979 and most everybody who was an early adopter of electric vehicles found their way to our association and meetings, said Steven Lough, President of the 150-member club. Vinton was an active member. "Craig was always willing to show his electric cars and talk to the public at shows. He wanted to help educate the public."
You can read the earlier three West Seattle Herald articles on Craig Vinton here, here, and here.
Regarding the most recent, July 28 story, Mayor Mike McGinn was scheduled to be driven by Craig Vinton in his electric roadster in the Seafair Torchlight Parade, then changed his plans and walked the route with Police Chief Diaz. In an email to the West Seattle Herald later that evening, Mayor McGinn told us he was sorry he did not meet Craig Vinton, and was to arrange a meeting with Vinton to discuss utilizing more electric vehicles in the city, one of Vinton's visions.
We previously reported that Craig Vinton was 64. However, he was 65. We regret the error.